Tuesday, April 08, 2008

We're baaaaack! American Idol--Top 10 and 9

TRACY: My brother Troy and I took a couple of weeks off our American Idol recaps, because Troy and our parents came to visit us, and we spent too much time at Disneyworld with my two little chicas to blog. (Life is hard.) We decided that we hated the second Beatles week so much, we're just not going to even go there.

TROY: Yet again, whose brilliant idea was it to do two weeks of Beatles songs in a row? The first week was fine, but overkill much? Especially since it lead to…

TRACY: CURSE YOU, BROOKE WHITE! After watching her insipid performance of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" during the second Beatles night, Troy and I couldn't stop singing it for the entire week, generally when we were in some sort of trance state, like while standing in line in the sun for too long, or shortly after waking up. Troy would knock into me in a zombified sway and start droning, "Here comes the sun, doo-doot-doo-doot. Here comes the suuuuunnnnn." Then I'd absentmindedly join in until someone started screaming because they thought we were going to lurch over and eat their brains.

TROY: After reading that, I have yet again broken out into the "doo-doot-doo-doot."

TRACY: I think if the government ever wants to brainwash the masses, they should just replay that horrible, horrible performance while flashing subliminal messages periodically across the screen. "Here comes the suuuuuunnnn, doo-doot-doo-doot," (YOU WILL PAY YOUR TAXES IN FULL AND ON TIME.) "Here comes the suuuuuunnnn, doo-doot-doo-doot," (ENLIST NOW. BE AN ARMY OF ONE! CALL YOUR FRIENDLY RECRUITER TODAY!) "It's all right." (SPYING ON YOUR EMAIL KEEPS YOU SAFE!)

TROY: Here comes the sun…. ACK!

TRACY: And here's a note to all future Idol contestants: If a song has so much as one "doo-doot" in it, run away. Far, far away.

Anyway, here's a rundown of our thoughts from the past two weeks--songs from the contestants' birth years, and Dolly Parton week:

I thought CARLY SMITHSON got completely and utterly shafted when she stripped down "Here You Come Again" and did something totally new and lovely with it, only to have Simon go, "Meh." I fully expect her to start shrieking "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, PEOPLE?" next time, after which I predict her head will explode. Her song was beautiful, and she deserved more credit than she got.

TROY: I totally agree. If the judges keep giving her the Trenyce shaft (who, I must mention yet again, was amazing and was totally screwed over. She even developed an eating disorder because of the trauma the judges inflicted on her…but I digress) ...

TRACY: (Agreed.)

TROY: ...she might melt down right there on the shiny blue stage. Her "Here You Come Again" was gorgeous and reminded me a little bit of something Kelly Clarkson would have done during her Idol run. I actually thought that this would have been in the top 15 Idol Performances Evah! Stupid judges…

TRACY: I haven't really been in love with her outfits either, but I don't think so much of Simon's focus should have gone there--she sang beautifully! Critique the singing, man! That said, I think she's been raiding the American Idol snack table a little more than she should, because she doesn't look like the same woman who rocked the high-waisted sailor pants a few weeks back. Not that she looks fat--she doesn't. But perhaps if she has gained weight, she's getting used to her new curves and doesn't quite know how to dress them. That's the only thing that can explain the horrible sleeveless flour-sack shirt (Yes, we know you have a tattoo. We're also over it.) and radioactive red pants ensemble. Yuck.

LAST WEEK: TRACY: I was totally "meh" about her "Total Eclipse of the Heart." I thought she was going to do the key change at the end and really belt some wicked high notes, but she kept it in the same key and totally underwhelmed me. I still love her voice, but it was no "Come Together."

TROY: I actually thought it was a bit of a mess (not enough to earn "hot mess of the week" though). You know you're in trouble when NIKKI MCKIBBIN outsings you on a song. The biggest problem with the tattooed wonder is that she isn't consistent enough. I really like Carly (in fact, she might be my favorite contestant left), but she needs pick better songs and challenge herself. If she doesn't, then she might have to face the wrath of my inner Tyra.

TRACY: Carly, you've been warned.

I can only surmise that RAMIELE MALUBAY isn't getting the same sartorial advice because the judges are so busy trying to stay awake, they can't shake off the Ramiele torpor to offer cogent critiques. Who the HELL is dressing this woman? I wouldn't even let them dress my daughters' Barbies. Horrible.

TROY: I thought her oversized 80s t-shirt and leggings were perfectly fashion forward?

TRACY: For a pajama party, maybe. As for Ramiele's performance, I don't even remember what she sang, or why. She has a nice voice, but as plenty of people have pointed out, she doesn't really pop on stage--which may be something that will come as she gains more experience. The only thing about her that stands out is that she's little and her facial expressions range from a wide, squinty, stretched out smile worthy of my four-year-old when she says "Cheese!" for the camera, and an "Hi-I'm-little-and-cute!" pout and nose scrunch.

TROY: Ramiele is like Diana DiGarmo, minus the "personality." Her voice is fine, but she doesn't really sell anything she is singing. Right now, the only song I think she is really capapble of being believable with is "The Wheels on the Bus." At least if this Idol thing doesn't pan out, she can always have a career with Kidz Bop!

TRACY: Here's some advice, short stuff: Some day soon, you are going to be little and OLD, and that cutesy pout is just going to look desperate and horrible. Stop it. Stop it now. Show some dignity! You are woman! You need to roar, not squeak adorably.

TROY: Word.

LAST WEEK: TRACY: I have no idea why Ramiele chose to cover "Alone," after Carrie Underwood dominated it, wrestled it to the ground, and declared herself its champion in season five. Ramiele's voice--which I HAD thought was pretty powerful--came off sounding thin and shaky in comparison with Carrie or the great Ann Wilson. Bad choice. Bad, bad choice.

TROY: Exactly my thoughts. She might as well have came out and tried to tackle "Summertime." Carrie's "Alone" is remembered as probably one of the best Idol performances and Ramiele is one of the most forgettable and sleep-inducing contestants. At least she provides a good 5 minute nap every week.

TRACY: Another person who deserved more credit from the judges is JASON CASTRO. I thought his version of "Travelin' Thru" was lovely and perfectly suited to his slightly frightened hippie vibe. He has a sweet, unusual voice, and I think that cover would have fit perfectly on a Jason Castro album. Simon and company put him through, and I just don't really know what they want from the boy. He has a limited selection of songs to choose from--in this case, country songs written and performed by a woman--and he chose the perfect one for him and did it well. I didn't think he deserved to get slammed.

TROY: I actually really liked Jason this week, mainly because "Travelin' Thru" is one of my favorite Dolly Parton songs. My issue this week is with the studio version of this song on iTunes. Who the heck are the producers on these songs? The arrangement is horrifying and does absolutely nothing for Jason's voice. I think I could have better recorded a version with a Casio and my laptop. Sheesh.

LAST WEEK: TRACY: I really liked his version of "Fragile," and you KNOW how I am about Sting/Police covers (see Brooke White's crime against humanity, below). I think it suited his funky little voice, and I loved that he threw in some Spanish. (Which Sting himself did on his album Nada Como el Sol, which I also have.) I thought the judges blasted him unjustly. It wasn't pure greatness, but it was nice.

TROY: Really? I thought it was incredibly boring. And how STONED was Jason afterward? The boy could barely string together a full sentence and made Paula look a little coherent.

TRACY: And Jason being stoned is a surprise? Dread soup, dude.

I liked DAVID COOK's "Little Sparrow," though it didn't have the vocal wow of his arrangements of "Billie Jean," "Hello," and "Eleanor Rigby," which we have now learned weren't really his arrangements at all. Sigh. I really wanted to believe he was that talented that he could knock out all-new interpretations of well-known songs within a week, but that is not to be. I still think he has an amazing voice, though. And I think this whole debacle has shown that it's fairly unrealistic to think the contestants are going to be able to reinterpret everything thrown at them in new and exciting ways. He did do his own version of "Little Sparrow," and it was great.

TROY: He's a fraud! Anyway, I thought his "Little Sparrow" was okay, but definitely not as impressive as the past arrangements he … "borrowed." I guess I simply do not like Skeezey McCrazy. And although he is trying to be more humble, there is something completely unsettling about him. I think he is on edge every week and I'm just waiting for him to totally snap (or have a heart attack).

TRACY: MEAN! Also great was his new haircut, which looked both hip and Not Oily. Unfortunately, whoever did his hair for the performance show obviously didn't get to him soon enough before the results show, because David apparently was able to find his bottle of product and slick down the new haircut against his lightbulb-shaped skull once again. I'm hoping the stylist stages a Hair Intervention before the next episode--or at least conducts a search-and-destroy mission for that accursed bottle of Dippity Do--because he looked really good Tuesday night!

TROY: His hair did look great during the performance. It actually made me forget for a moment that he was Skeezey McCrazy.

LAST WEEK: TRACY: Already noted that I loved his "Billie Jean," even though it wasn't his.

TROY: Thief.

TRACY: MICHAEL JOHNS surprised me by being AMAZING. When I'm performing (that would be for my audience members Loofah, Shampoo Bottle, and Shower Gel), I tend to like to do songs written and sung by men, because then my singing them is a little unexpected. I think Michael Johns should now always take songs made famous by women singers and change them up, because he was seven kinds of awesome doing Dolly Parton. FINALLY we see why this guy got through to the finals, other than that whole charisma thing. Good for him--I think he's a nice guy and would love to see this streak continue.

TROY: I was incredibly impressed by Michael this week. I agree that he really showed why he is in this competition. He left nothing to snark about after the tore up the Dolly Parton song. It was brilliant and I think you pretty much said it all.

TRACY: Wow, look at us. We're getting soft.

LAST WEEK: TRACY: Michael didn't exactly color outside the lines with his Queen medley (and what was WITH the seizure-inducing arena-rock lighting? DUDE.), but he actually SOUNDED like the rock god he was trying to be. Not many people can pull off Freddie Mercury, and he did it, so kudos to Michael for displaying the voice to back up all that charisma.

TROY: Michael Johns did something that he hasn't done yet in the competition--he made me remember him. Seriously…each week I forget completely about him. It wasn't anything too out of the box, but I LOVED his Queen medley. He totally sold it and actually made me a fan, just as I was about to write him off completely. Well played, Mr Johns.

TRACY: Indeed. Human plush toy DAVID ARCHULETA also chalked up yet another fabulous performance with "Smoky Mountain Memories." It's starting to get a little boring, how great he is. I have nothing to say except ... So! Cute! I! Just! Want! To! Squeeze! Him!

TROY: Can't he sing something fun for once? Every week he is singing an "issue" song--no more war! Being homeless is sad! I just want one week of fluff.

LAST WEEK: TRACY: I agreed with Simon that the cloying song his stage dad chose for him was awful. Little Mister Sunshine did a lovely job with it, but dad should step off and let the poor boy pick something that doesn't feel like it just stepped out of a time machine made of cheese.

TROY: And David, probably afraid to be beaten if he says otherwise, kept trying to pound into the judges' heads that HE chose the song. It's one of his favorites because it's just so great! And he chose it because it's so great! And it he totally loves it because it is just. So. GREAT! Whatever. Get this boy away from creepy stage dad.

TRACY: Totally. Here's what I love about SYESHA MERCADO: I love her hair. I mean, I love, love, LOVE her hair. It's like a force of nature, with a separate personality all of its own. I would not only love to have had crazy, curly, effervescent hair like hers, but I'd love to be able to carry it off (it would look seven kinds of stupid on my big Mayan melon). So why, then, are the AI stylists constantly straightening it? Her hair is cut in odd layers to flatter her natural curls, and when someone flatirons the hell out of it, it just looks like someone took a pizza cutter and a razor blade to her head. Syesha, you need to get in touch with your inner diva and tell them hands off the hair. Seriously. It's awesome just the way it is.

TROY: Word?

TRACY: Her performances have been really nice lately. I wish she'd stayed true to the Dolly Parton version of "I Will Always Love You" instead of trying to channel Whitney at the end. Number one, Dolly's rendition has always been more melodic and heartfelt, while Whitney just belts her way through and relies on her powerful voice to carry her through. As we've discussed previously, no one to date has been able to equal Whitney's power (other than the unjustly underrated Trenyce), so it's idiotic to even try. I don't think Syesha will be with us for much longer, but I do hope she outlasts Kristy Lee.

TROY: She couldn't do it, could she? Syesha just couldn't step away from doing the Whitney Houston version of "I Will Always Love You." Has she never seen an episode of Idol before? YOU DON'T SING WHITNEY OR MARIAH (unless you are Trenyce). I wish I could muster up enough snark for Syesha, but she's just dreadfully disappointing for me every week. Bleh.

LAST WEEK: TRACY: The blogosphere has been rife with speculation over her song choices tending to focus on love triangles. So if her choice of "If I Was Your Woman" reflects something going on in her personal life ... :::ascending soapbox:::: He is not going to leave his wife for you, and even if he does, he will cheat on you at the first dimpled harbinger of the cottage cheese that will one day take over your thighs, no matter how many lunges you do (unless your name happens to be Tina Turner, which it is not). You're a lovely girl, and you can certainly do better. Stop singing to this fool, unless the song selection happens to be "Independent Woman" or "Leave (Get Out)."

TROY: There was blogosphere speculation? Where have I been? Is Syesha a mistress? Scandalous! Anyway, lame song, decent vocals. Syesha is the new "meh" contestant to me. I'd love to see her rock out to "Proud Mary" or something she could really let loose on. Who listens to big ballads anymore?

TRACY: KRISTY LEE COOK gets an award for Dorkiest Song of the Night with her insipid choice of "Coat of Many Colors." Really, people, Dolly's the only one who can pull off that dated, oddball tune anymore. Yes, I know it's a Bible story, but I don't think the author meant for his or her Divine inspirations to be accompanied by a banjo. I do have to say, though, that Kristy did stay on key most of the time, which is pretty much the highest praise one can give her.

TROY: Terrible song choice, but what else would you expect from Krusty? I can't think of another song choice that would have worked for her. God, she sucks.

LAST WEEK: TRACY: Jose and I totally CRACKED UP when Kristy Lee came out swinging like the cage fighter she is with Lee Greenwood's "Proud to Be an American." I once remarked on a military base that I loathed that song, and I thought the people around me were going to suddenly yank a bunch of pitchforks and torches from their pockets and run me off federal property. So let me just say that I am, indeed, proud to be an American, but I am not proud of simplistic melodies, subtle-as-a-hippo-in-a-birdbath lyrics, and boneheaded, unnuanced singing. But Kristy's decision to haul out that jingoistic chestnut was pure strategic genius. A vote against Kristy is a vote for the terrorists, y'all!

TROY: You're incredibly unpatriotic. I thought Kristy was so incredibly BRAVE when she chose "Proud to be an American." Picture it: her first CD will hopefully have an uplifting duet with Toby Keith about stomping boots up the asses of those who oppose America's policies and a mash-up of "You're a Grand Old Flag."

I'm going to hell for all of my sarcasm, aren't I? I'm sarcastic because of how manipulative and calculated Kristy's choice was with this song. She knew which nerve to hit, and I'm sure if she continues the same streak of music she will go far in the competition.

TRACY: And that leaves us with BROOKE WHITE, whom I can't stand for some unfathomable reason. I'm not sure why, but she totally rubs me the wrong way, and I'd rather scrape a chalkboard with a jagged piece of metal for ten minutes than listen to her sing. I think, other than her passing off Pat Benatar's acoustic version of "Love is a Battlefield" as her own a few weeks back, it's because she reminds me so much of Nancy Travis, whom I have never liked as an actress. Which is somewhat unfair to Brooke "Kaavya Viswanathan" White, but there it is.

TROY: Two words: David Cook. He begrudgingly has to admit that his renditions of songs like "Billie Jean" are not his. Anyway, the reason I can't stand Brooke is because she is certifiable. Her need to assure the audience and the judges that her critiques are "okayokayokay" (done in a manic way) creeps me out.

TRACY: There's that, too. Anyway, she did a decent version of "Jolene" (which Marin has decided she LOVES and makes me play Dolly's rendition on iTunes over and over so she can "DANCE, Mommy!,"), but what was with the giant, dopey smile in the middle? She's singing about a woman who's going to steal away the only man she has ever and could ever love, and there she is, grinning away? WTF?

TROY: I think Brooke did a decent job with "Jolene." That asinine grin that I just painted on her face is ridiculous though. It's quite catchy, but not to the point of "Here Comes the Sun…"


TRACY: (And can I just say that no man who would run off with some floozy redhead just because she looked at him is worth a life of celibacy and mental self-flagellation? I mean, honestly, put on your big-girl panties and go shopping! If he cheated on you, he's so totally NOT WORTH IT! ... Idiotic song.)

TROY: Not as bad as Rihanna threatening to kill her boyfriend because SHE cheated on him. Get over yourself.

TRACY: That one sucks, too.

LAST WEEK: TRACY: I swear, if this girl so much as hums the lyrics to a Police classic in the shower, I'm heading to California and will yank out all her phone lines so no one may vote for her again. That god-grindingly awful version of "Every Breath You Take" didn't belong inside the elevator at my local Belks, much less on a national stage in front of millions. For the love of humanity, LEAVE STING ALONE!!!!! No artist deserves to have THAT done to their creations, much less a musical genius like Gordon Sumner. You are not Tori Amos. Back away slowly from the piano and knock it off.

TROY: I thought Brooke's cover was BRILLIANT, maybe even better than The Police's version. It was fresh, gorgeous, and just perfection. Performance of the competition.

TRACY: I'm seriously going to hurt you next time I see you.

TROY: I'm kidding! It was awful. Didn't you love when she screwed up at the beginning and had to restart? I knew that you would despise it as soon as Seacrest announced what song she'd be singing. I didn't hate it, but Crazed Pollyanna didn't do anything special to it.

TRACY: Maggie is still in mourning over Amanda Overmyer--I have to answer a million, "Where's Amanda Overmyer? Did Amanda Overmyer get kicked off? Where did Amanda Overmyer go? Will Amanda Overmyer come back?" questions EVERY TIME American Idol starts now, curse you all, voting audience. Go ahead, break a four-year-old's heart, why don't you?

TROY: Poor Maggie. At least she'll always have "Back in the USSR" to replay over and over.

TRACY: Ahem. Anyway, like I said, I was totally fine with America's choice this week to send Ramiele packing, even though I did feel sorry for her when she cried. Here's hoping she'll have a long and illustrious career doing Very Tiny Musical Theater.

TROY: Or Kidz Bop!

(Here comes the sun…)

TRACY: (Doo-doot-doo-doot.)

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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